Title

Three essays examining the relationship between public budgeting policies, resource equity and student outcomes

Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Public Administration

Advisor(s)

Ross Rubenstein

Keywords

Public budgeting, Resource allocation, Achievement gap, Equity, Weighted student funding, Education policy

Subject Categories

Education Policy | Public Administration | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

This dissertation examines the relationship between public budgeting policies, resource equity and student outcomes using data on ten school districts in two states. The New York study begins by identifying and describing six resource allocation mechanisms used across four mid-sized school districts, and then analyzes the way each mechanism distributes resources across schools and students. The Texas studies (there are two) assess whether a new school budgeting system called Weighted Student Funding was associated with a reduction in the resource and achievement gap between high and low cost schools in Houston. A mixed method approach was used to gather information and to test hypotheses in each of the three essays in this dissertation. On-site interviews were conducted in three school districts, in two different states, with 26 district officials. Two customized databases were constructed using data on resources, student demographics and student performance from Texas and New York. The New York database is cross-sectional and includes information on four school districts, 129 elementary schools and more than 83,000 students. The Texas database covers a ten-year period and includes information on six school districts, 551 schools serving 650,000 students. Estimation procedures used include multivariate regression and difference in differences with linear trends to control for state and local policies aimed at reducing the resource and achievement gap in Texas. The research conducted in New York found that schools serving more economically disadvantaged students had less qualified teachers compared to schools within the same district that served fewer students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The study identifies six resource allocation mechanisms that are responsible for some of the resource disparities described in the study. The research conducted in Texas finds that Weighted Student Funding is associated with a narrowing of the resource gap between low and high cost schools across five different resource measures, including the teacher experience gap, which decreased by two years. Weighted Student Funding is associated with a 7.44 percentage point reduction, on average across tests and grades, in the achievement gap between high and low cost schools.

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